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Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis / Canine Denerative Myelopathy

Herbal treatments to help support Multiple Sclerosis and slow the progression of the disease.

Animals routinely experience irregularities in bodily systems, including the Central and Autonomic Nervous systems, requiring a correction to restore emotional balance, to promote relaxation and reduce nervousness and to balance mood and provide feelings of comfort and security.

Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is an uncommon, progressive degenerative disease of the nerves in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) that causes hind limb weakness and paralysis. Eventually, it will also affect the front limbs. Multiple Sclerosis disrupts the normal communication pathways between the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of coordination and eventual paralysis. It primarily affects purebred dogs.

Localization of the disease process (lesions) is in the white matter pathways of the spinal cord and scattered throughout the white matter of the brain, and also destroys the protective myelin tissue that covers the nerves.

The symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (DM) start gradually, usually in adult dogs over 5 years of age. Early in the course of the disease, affected dogs and cats will start to lose muscle coordination and balance in their hind legs, called ataxia. The dog will develop slight or incomplete hind end paralysis, called paraparesis, which will progress to total rear end paralysis, called paraplegia. The condition will be accompanied by varying degrees of urinary and/or fecal incontinence.

As the dog or cat loses its ability to stand and use its hind legs, it may develop bed sores (ulcers) and wounds from urine scalding, which can be extremely painful. It usually takes somewhere between 6 and 12 months for full pelvic paralysis to develop in dogs with DM.

The ability to chew and swallow may also be affected. When all 4 legs are paralyzed, the condition is called “tetraplegia.” Tetraplegia usually occurs within several years of the diagnosis.  An animal's sensory perception abilities are unaffected by this disease, and most affected dogs do not suffer from pain.

Symptoms of Degenerative Myelopathy:

Dragging of the rear paws

Knuckling-over on the rear toes

Sores on top of the rear paws

Abnormal wear of the rear toenails

Lameness

Limping (starts in the hind end; progresses to the forelimbs)

Spastic, long-strided rear movement

Difficulty jumping, running, rising or walking

Balance and coordination abnormalities (ataxia)

Muscle wasting of the hindquarters from disuse and neurogenic atrophy; mild to progressively profound

Incomplete paralysis of the hind legs (paraparesis)

Complete paralysis of the hind legs (paraplegia); inability to stand or walk

Incontinence (urinary and/or fecal)

Urine scalding

Bed sores

Incomplete paralysis of all legs (tetraparesis)

Complete paralysis of all four legs (tetraplegia)

Difficulty chewing or swallowing

Difficulty breathing

A number of other disorders mimic the signs and symptoms of MS, including intervertebral disk disease, myelitis, degenerative lumbosacral stenosis, spinal cord neoplasia (cancer) and hip dysplasia, among others.

Some owners mistakenly assume that their older pets are developing arthritis, when DM is actually the culprit. Affected animals usually become incontinent late in the progression of the disease, although it does not seem to be accompanied by pain. One of the key clinical features of canine degenerative myelopathy is the absence of any localizable spinal pain.

Researchers have discovered that Multiple Sclerosis (Degenerative myelopathy) in dogs is caused by a specific mutation in the superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) gene. Mutations in the SOD1 gene have been shown to cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, in people. Because degenerative myelopathy shows up most commonly in certain purebred dog breeds, there probably is a strong hereditary component to the condition. DM is thought to be spread by autosomal recessive inheritance.

Dogs with MS should not likely be bred to prevent passing on of the mutated SOD1 gene. There is no realistic way to prevent DM in dogs. MS is most often diagnosed in aging German Shepherds, American Eskimo, Belgian Shepherd, Bernese Mountain Dog, Boxer, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Collie, Giant Schnauzer, Golden Retriever, Great Dane, Irish Setter, Irish Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, Kuvasz, Labrador Retriever, Miniature Poodle, Old English Sheepdog, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Pug, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Siberian Husky, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, Standard Poodle, Weimaraner and Wirehaired Fox Terrier. Mixed breed dogs have also been diagnosed with this disease.

The mean age of affected dogs is 9 years, with males and females being equally affected. It is extremely uncommon for young dogs to develop MS.

Once a dog or cat is diagnosed with DM, a pet owner can do a number of things to manage the consequences of the disease, which include urine retention (owners can manually express their dog’s bladder), urinary tract infection, weight gain from inability to ambulate and skin lesions from urine scalding.

It is critically important that dogs affected by degenerative myelopathy receive meticulous supportive care and good hygiene, especially in their “rear end” area, to prevent accumulation of waste products, bed sores, urine scalding and secondary bacterial infection.

There is no cure or effective treatment for canine MS (DM), and the long-term prognosis is poor. Most dogs will lose the ability to walk normally within 6 months of being diagnosed. With early detection, diagnosis and supportive care may be helpful. Owners must provide unwavering supportive care to maintain their pet’s quality of life, especially once it loses the ability to stand and move independently. Smaller dogs may survive longer than larger dogs, likely because it is easier for their owners to provide supportive care.

Herbal Treatments:

Herbal remedies provide plant and marine based pain relief and help to limit the progression of Multiple Sclerosis (Canine or Feline Degenerative Myelopathy); to limit pain and inflammatory response; provide relief for joint pain, muscle weakness and degenerative conditions; support the cartilage matrix and renew synovial fluid to help correct degeneration of cartilage and bone; support bones, blood vessels, joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves and tendons; support joints and connective tissue and relieve stiff and aching joints.

Joint Ease Super Dog & Cat (learn more) contains plant and marine extracts that promote preventative and reparative support to rebuild tissue, joints, bones and muscles, supports healthy immune and inflammatory response, for rheumatism, for arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, rheumatism, Degenerative Joint Disease, Intervertebral Disk Disease and arthrosis, for muscle pains, strains, injuries and other degenerative joint related diseases, for pain, as a pain reliever for swelling and lack of mobility, for overall optimal health and function and as a natural alternative for tumors and cysts.

Hepa Protect – (learn more) supports proper liver function, metabolism, bile production and flow, rehabilitates the performance, health and repair of the liver, kidneys, bladder and gall bladder, detoxifies the kidneys and liver, tones and balances the connective tissue of the liver, kidneys and bladder, normalizes liver enzyme levels, regulates kidney acid/alkaline levels, for all types of stones and gravel of the liver, kidneys, bladder and gallbladder, reduces uric acid, for gall bladder inflammation, gall stones and gallbladder infections, for renal colic and renal calculi.

Seal ‘Em & Heal ‘Em – (learn more) promotes healing for all types of wounds, including hot spots, abrasions, bites, cuts, scrapes, skin irritations, infections, hemorrhaging conditions, ulcers, provides cellular support of tissue, skin and coat, for gastrointestinal distress, as a neurasthenic that blocks the activation of nerve fibers and tissue response to inflammation, supporting the body's tissue repair mechanism to stop mutations, and in the treatment of all types of Lyme disease, including Lyme borealis, burgdorferi, borreliosis and Chronic Lyme disease (CLD).

Related Products:

I AM A ROCK STAR - (learn more) supports adrenal gland health and response to stress and metabolic demand, supports glandular ability to rebuild and regenerate, promotes hormonal balance, regulates stress on liver, kidney and digestive functions by reducing thirst and excessive elimination, promotes cognitive function and memory performance, balances blood sugar levels, for natural energy in young and geriatric pets, increases muscle use, ability and stamina, provides anti-inflammatory and immune support, helps maintain healthy adrenal, central nervous, digestive, immune and reproductive systems.

Soothed & Serene – (learn more) is used to relax and calm all bodily systems, to soothe animals exhibiting all types of  destructive behavior due toanxiety, fear, grief, separation, pain, illness, allergies, aggression, socialization issues, electrical and thunder storms due to its calming, mildly sedative and nervine effects that can bridge nutritional deficiencies and relieve irregularity in bodily systems, restore emotional balance, promote comfort, relaxation, balanced mood and feelings of security.

Conventional Treatments:

A veterinarian will examine a dog for hind limb lameness, lack of coordination, muscle wasting and partial paralysis, ruling out other conditions before reaching a presumptive diagnosis of degenerative myelopathy.

Your veterinarian will take a thorough history from the pet owner, focusing on when, where and how the dog’s symptoms first presented. Your vet will also perform a thorough physical examination, including a neurologic examination to try and localize which parts, if any, of the spinal cord have been damaged or are otherwise involved.

The initial evaluation may include routine blood and urine assessment (complete blood count, serum chemistry panel and urinalysis). The results of those tests typically will be unremarkable if DM is the underlying cause of the dog’s condition.

A comprehensive neurological examination is critical to making a tentative diagnosis of degenerative myelopathy. Dogs with this disease are not painful, and a skilled veterinarian can localize their spinal cord lesions to the upper and lower back (thoracic and lumbar) areas. Survey X-rays of the chest and back (thoracolumbar radiographs) can be taken to screen for primary or metastatic cancer.

The veterinarian will review the radiographs carefully, looking for any evidence of tumors along or around the spinal cord that may be contributing to the dog’s symptoms. Samples of cerebrospinal fluid can be analyzed for evidence of inflammation. Advanced imaging procedures, such as electromyography, myelography, nerve conduction studies, computed tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be performed alone or in combination to rule out other disorders.

A test is now available to detect the presence of the genetic mutation that is responsible for causing degenerative myelopathy in dogs. Normal dogs will have two copies of the non-mutated gene; this is called being “homozygous” for the normal gene. Carriers will have one copy of the normal gene and one copy of the mutated gene, one coming from each parent; this is called being “heterozygous” for that gene. Dogs that have or are at risk for having DM will have two copies of the mutated gene; they will be “homozygous” for the mutated gene. All dogs with DM will have two of the abnormal genes, but not all dogs with two of the abnormal genes will develop DM.

In a living animal, degenerative myelopathy can only be diagnosed by ruling out other causes of progressive, irreversible paralysis. Unfortunately, the only definitive way to diagnose this disease is to examine the dog’s spinal cord under a microscope after the animal has died. This is done at a diagnostic pathology laboratory using a technique called histopathology.

Early detection, diagnosis and supportive care may be helpful. Owners of affected animals must provide scrupulous supportive care to maintain their pet’s quality of life, especially once it loses the ability to stand and move on its own. Smaller dogs may survive longer than larger dogs, because it is easier for their owners to provide supportive care. Owners may want to ask for a referral to a veterinary specialist with experience managing this disease.

Once an affected dog starts losing its ability to stand and walk, its owner must do a number of things to maintain its quality of life. Moderate exercise and other forms of physical therapy are encouraged, to delay muscle deterioration and atrophy and help maintain mobility and strength in the pelvic limbs.

Range of motion exercises are helpful for the pet where the owner stretches, extends and flexes the dog’s rear legs. This sort of activity seems to slow the progression of MS and helps the dog to maintain strength, balance and the ability to walk for a longer period of time. Swimming exercises, underwater treadmill use and other water-based techniques (hydrotherapy) also can benefit dogs with DM.

The dog will need well-padded bedding, such as an air mattress, waterbed, lounge chair pad, human bed mattress, fleece, sleeping bags, blankets, straw or other lofty, soft and comfortable things to lie on. The outer layers of bedding will need to be changed frequently, and the dog will need to be cleaned and dried regularly to prevent bed sores, urine scalding, skin ulceration and other lesions caused by urinary and/or fecal incontinence. The hair under the tail and around the anus should be trimmed in long-haired breeds.

Owners should manage their dogs’ diet to prevent excessive weight gain. Dogs should be turned frequently to prevent pressure sores and possible lung collapse (atelectasis). A wheel cart, which is basically a wheelchair for dogs, can be used for dogs that have lost mobility in their hind legs. As long as the dog is able to use its front legs normally, a wheel cart will keep it comfortable and mobile.

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